Chris heads to the Alps to ride on six pioneering mountain railways. It’s the middle of winter, with snow and ice constantly threatening to derail his journey, as he crosses Austria and Switzerland on ever higher and higher railways to find out how and why these extraordinary lines were built. Along the way he faces some terrifying 19th Century winter sports and a climb up the North Face of the Eiger. Will Chris conquer the Alps? Or will they conquer him?
In this episode, Chris embarks on a thousand mile journey across Spain’s complex railway system, from Gibraltar in the far south to Bermio on the north coast, deep in Basque Country. Travelling on an extraordinary range of different trains and types of track, he’s on a mission to find out how Spanish railways evolved from some of the most backward in Europe to the most advanced and innovative in the World, through one and a half centuries of stormy history, including the Civil War and four dark decades of the Franco dictatorship.
Chris Tarrant embarks on a journey across Ukraine, where he meets a soldier from the ongoing civil war and visits Chernobyl.
Chris travels the entire length of Vietnam's Reunification Line, from Ho Chi Minh City in the south to Hanoi in the north. His first stop is Di An, where he learns about an ambitious heritage project that reflects the country's increasing engagement with its history, before heading to some of the key locations of the Vietnam war, including Da Nang Beach and the Viet Cong tunnels.
Chris Tarrant explores the darkest chapter in the history of the railways, their role in the Nazi Holocaust of WWII. Traveling through three countries, he takes a railway journey that will chronicle how the Holocaust evolved during a 10 year period from 1935 to 1945, starting in Nuremberg and ending at the death camps of Auschwitz. The programme explores the history step-by-step, starting with the implementation of the first anti-Jewish laws and the Nazi’s simultaneous quest to build the world’s most powerful railway. Chris investigates how thousands of trains involved in the war were also used to deport millions to ghettos and death camps. He meets holocaust survivors who suffered for days on board cattle trucks and hears their tales of horror, death and heroic acts of bravery. He meets people who worked on the railways and historians who will argue that the Holocaust was neither planned nor inevitable and that it wouldn’t have been possible on such a scale without Hitler’s railways.
The broadcaster returns, beginning by travelling across Europe to examine the train's role in the First World War. In Northumberland, he enjoys a ride on a preserved locomotive to find out how important the railways were to Britain for mobilisation of troops and the operation of large training camps around the country. Aboard a holiday train commandeered to transport troops and ammunition, Chris tells the stories of two opposing soldiers, one English and one German, who both took trains to the Somme in 1916.
Boarding a train in Budapest, Chris takes a mid-winter trip through Transylvania in search of the truth behind the story of Dracula and to find out how well the region's railway networks - which were meticulously described in Bram Stoker's 1897 classic novel - survived. Along the way he visits a place that is claimed to be the world's spookiest wood, stops off at the birthplace of the gruesome Vlad the Impaler and heads to Bucharest to look at the vast edifices of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
Chris travels through Turkey, reflecting on the achievements of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk - the founder of the republic who oversaw the modernisation of the country and its railways. He begins his journey at Istanbul railway station, the starting point ort he Marmaray rail tunnel, which passes beneath the Bosphorus and was built to withstand earthquakes. He also visits Ankara and the volcanic spires of Cappadocia, before heading deep into the mountains and ending in the remote borderlands city of Kars.
Chris sets out on a mission to visit all four corners of Ireland in just six days, on an ageing network that has seen better days. His journey starts in the south-west at Cobh in Co Cork and his first stop is Blarney Castle, where Chris kisses the famous stone, before he heads to the west coast to ride on an old local line saved by an eccentric local millionaire. He heads to Dublin to visit the jail made famous by the Easter Rising, before ending in Belfast, where he ponders what the future may hold for the railways and for Ireland.